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Why I’m Buying an iPad Mini

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ipadmini2As an avid Android user, I have not bought any Apple products for personal use since an iPod 3rd Generation went belly up on me almost 5 years ago. The battery or some other internal mechanism went, and I have never looked back (well more than once or twice). I thought the iPod was okay, but I did not really think it was any better than the Sansa players I’d had in the past (just bigger) or the Zune I bought to replace it. However, I’m looking to buy an iPad Mini, and get reacquainted with Apple products.

An iDevice…so what? That has been my feeling with many Apple products since the original iPhone. I already had a phone (a Motorola Q9H Windows Mobile device) and did not feel the need to upgrade (of course my tech addiction was not at its current level as well). But with each successive device, I just liked what I had (I’d still pit the Evo 4G against any phone of its generation). I thought the iPad was nice, but I liked the Galaxy Tab 7 better (I used it for reading and it was a wonderful GPS). I enjoyed (and still enjoy) the tinker-friendly, custom nature of Android. chose the keyboard, chose my launcher and home screen, and I chose what app did what (by default or each time). This made (and makes) my Android experience unique to me.

One Week with the iPad Mini, for better or worse But I am sick of hearing about how “Android has no tablet-optimized apps,” I believe those people to be wrong – good Android apps are scaled immediately to the screen size (and resolution) and there is not a huge difference in screen size between the 4.5+” and 7.” Yes the game changes with a 10″ tablet, but mainly because the orientation has changed from portrait to landscape. So I am jumping into iOS with an iPad Mini, and for a week, I am replacing my Nexus 7 completely with it. I use my Nexus 7 for a lot (reading, browsing, games, and Google TV Remote), but every time I think to reach to the Nexus 7, I’ll be grabbing the iPad Mini.

Why the iPad Mini? I chose the Mini version for a few reasons, the first is the form factor. To replace the Nexus 7, I needed to pick the device that most mimics it (yes fanboys and girls the Nexus 7 came out before the iPad Mini). While the “retina” resolution does speak to me as “shiny shiny” (and the A6x processor of the iPad 4 is not half bad either), I know I would ignore the larger device time and again. Secondly, I chose it due to the price, the baseline (16GB) iPad Mini at $329 is $30 dollars more than the Nexus 7 32GB with 3G, and $130 more expensive than the Nexus 7 16GB, comparing a $200 Nexus 7 with a $500 iPad 4 is apples and oranges, so these two will have to do.  Lastly, I picked it because it was the first Apple device in years that I wanted. I am a strong proponent of the 7″ form factor and Apple seemed to finally get it. I’ve been wanting to dabble in iOS for years, and was looking at the latest iPod Touch, and honestly, who can justify a $299 iPod Touch when a $329 iPad Mini is right there? I did not see any value in the Touch, especially when it did not have the A6 of the iPhone 5.

What I know I’ll Miss I’m a big Google user. For both work and play, in Google I trust. Call it what you want, but they have done pretty good by me (minus the Nexus 4 launch and subsequent re-release, but that’s another story). I’ll miss the deep Google integration, and the ease of use. I’ll figure it out, but I’ll miss how easy it is I’m sure. I’ll miss just plugging it into any microUSB cable to get power. I cannot stress enough how much I despise proprietary cables. I think they are a total waste of time and money and once we have wireless power and everything has Bluetooth, life will be grand (that said, the microUSB to lightning adapter for charging is pretty stellar). I’ll miss knowing how to do everything, from rooting to romming to just plain everythingI have gotten reasonably adept at iOS, but it still feels unintuitive, I will miss the back, menu, search buttons, and I’ll miss REAL multi-tasking (good for answering texts/chats/messages/emails while reading a book). Lastly, I know I’ll miss my tailored homescreen, that puts everything where want it, with my choice of browser, maps, etc etc etc.

What I’m looking forward to Everyday, I check out the Amazon “App of the Day.” It’s a free app, and sometimes is good. I’ve gotten some total gems here (though they are not updated as quickly as their Play Store brethren) and I always see tons of free apps for iOS. There are plenty of these that I have wanted to check out, just did not have the ability to. I am looking forward to some of the (nerd) games that are only on iOS. I can’t believe that any developer would still be ignoring the Android world, but they do exist out there. I am interested in seeing if I like the XX% larger screen (insert whatever statistic you want here) of the iPad Mini and its 4:3 format instead of the 16:9 format. And I want  to see if iOS really does not work for me, or I’m just not good enough with it yet. So today, I’ll head to the local Best Buy (*shudders* it’s not my fault Amazon does not sell it properly) and plunk down some money and walk out with brand new iPad Mini in hand. Be sure to tune in for my adventures in iOS-land.

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More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley, former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is Founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm providing fact based technology reviews in support of venture capital, private equity and emerging technology firms. He has extensive industry experience in intelligence and security and was awarded an intelligence community meritorious achievement award by AFCEA in 2008, and has also been recognized as an Infoworld Top 25 CTO and as one of the most fascinating communicators in Government IT by GovFresh.